One of the easiest ways to experience Napa Valley is on a fun tour. If you're planning to drive through Wine Country, consider booking an informative tour and tasting at one of the best wineries in Napa. If you'd rather leave the car behind, you can board a train, zip around on a Segway, peddle through the vineyards on a bicycle or take in the view of the valley from a hot air balloon. A standard Napa Valley wine tour will cover the history of the winery and explain how wine is made, but may also include venturing into the cellars, vineyards, and even a museum or art gallery before ending with a wine tasting. Afterwards, sit down at one of the best restaurants in Napa before you head home.
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Best Napa Valley wine tours
Founded by the Tattinger Champagne house in France, the elegant and impressive Domaine Carneros chateau offers an information-packed daily tour that covers the history of the winery, as well as a quick trips to the vineyard and the winemaking, bottling, riddling/aging and disgorging areas. Along the way visitors are served four glasses of sparkling wines. The tour concludes with a glass of pinot noir and a cheese plate ($60).
The ivy-covered, former Christian Brothers winery building dates back to the early 1900s and currently houses an incredible contemporary art museum that’s free to visit. The Hess winery also offers several different tours and experiences, including a guided tour into the heart of the historic estate vineyards on an ATV. The tour makes several stops to admire the stunning views and enjoy glasses of wine. Combined with the vineyard tour is a wine tasting with cheese ($125) or a three course lunch that is paired with wine ($185).
Heading through the Mission-style gateway entrance to the Robert Mondavi Winery feels grand. A leader in the industry, this legendary winery is a great place to learn about the history of the valley and winemaking. The in-depth winery tour gives visitors the chance to walk into the famous To Kalon Vineyard, see the winemaking cellars (including fermentation and barrel aging) and experience a seated educational tasting of three wines with a wine education specialist ($45).
Just minutes from downtown Napa in the Coombsville AVA is an old property that employs the newest, high-tech winemaking techniques. The Palmaz family makes cabernet, chardonnay, muscat, riesling and rosé. The comprehensive two-hour tour includes a walk through several levels of the cave, a visit to the fermentation dome where the data (including thermal imaging) from 24 large tanks is projected onto the ceiling, and a tasting of five wines paired with hors d’ oeuvres ($100).
Lace & Limos offers tuk tuk tours of Napa, allowing visitors an open air experience and the opportunity to jump on and off for tastings and exploration. Much more appealing than being stuck on a bus, the six-person vehicles take visitors to boutique winery estates, a seated cave tasting, a vineyard tour, food pairings. There are group and custom options available allowing you to choose how much time and the experiences you’d like to include. Standard tours are $99 for up to 5 hours.
The Wine Train is a leisurely way to experience the Napa Valley. The elegantly restored vintage train, which dates back to 1915, enables visitors to slow down and literally enjoy the ride. All the tours include a meal, and both half-day and full-day tours include stops at a winery for tastings. The round trip journey takes three hours starting in Napa and goes as far as St. Helena before turning back. Tours which include meals are $249 and up.
Taking off early in the morning, hot air balloons float over Yountville and Pope Valley lettings visitors see the rural beauty of the valley in a totally unique way. Rides vary in time depending upon the weather, but typically last 40 minutes to an hour (the whole experience lasts 3-4 hours) with an optional Champagne brunch at the end. Tours start at about $200.
Napa Valley Bike Tours offers guided bike tours, bike rentals, self-guided tours and electric bikes. Visitors can start in Napa or Yountville and choose half- or full-day excursions and even add on a hot air balloon ride. The tours have different themes so whether you want to ride through To Kalon vineyard, visit an art collection or include a lunch or dinner, there’s a package for you. Most tours start at about $125.
Segway tours take place in Napa, Yountville and Calistoga and include options such as wine tasting at boutique wineries, exploration of wetlands, a historic tour, culinary tour and ghost tour. Tours range from $75–$99 and are 2–3 hours each and include a knowledgeable guide. There are even tours for kids!
Located just past Rutherford and before the town of St. Helena, The Prisoner has quickly built a loyal following for its dark and moody bottles and labels and bold and unconventional blends. Fans of the wine can book a $125 tour that takes them through the winery space, out to a small vineyard on the property and then to The Makery, a tasting space dedicated to the work of a variety of artists and craftspeople and their wares for a five-course food and wine experience.